It’s not a mystery what any self-proclaimed “conservative” wants. As their name says, they want to “conserve”. The question – what do they want to conserve?
You can take “the future” right off the table. You can’t conserve what doesn’t exist.
Not only do Conservatives not want to “conserve” the future, they’d like to avoid it altogether if they can. They don’t want to know about it and they don’t want to think about it. They definitely don’t want to prepare themselves for it – because then they’d have to think about it. And if they had to think about the future, they’d have to change.
And THAT ain’t happening.
Progressives – for comparison’s sake – want to “progress” – just as their name says. Considering as you can’t “progress” into the past (that would be “regress), Progressives not only think about the future, they actively pursue strategies to deal with it. But, I digress…
Conservatives have no interest in the future. Their interest in the present is as a bulwark against the future. Whatever change has already occurred – their first choice is to roll it back if they can. If circumstances make that too complicated, conservatives are willing to cut their losses and move on. But wherever progress has made inroads, conservatives see a long-term project. Whether it’s abortion, immigration or LGBTQ rights, though conservatives may act as if they’ve accepted reality, they will continue to plot against it.
So – if Conservatives can’t conserve the future and grudgingly conserve the present, that must mean what they REALLY want to “conserve” is THE PAST.
And THAT is the crux of the matter. What Conservatives want to conserve is what was. Not necessarily what REALLY was, but how they imagine “it was”. Keep in mind – these are all White, Christian Men (mostly) that we’re talking about. The “then” they so desperately want to conserve is a “then” where THEY had all the power & money. The “then” Conservatives want to conserve is a time when THEY had total cultural and political hegemony.
The 1950’s were nicer and all but the time frame American Conservatives really have in mind is the 1850’s – antebellum America when everyone not European White knew their place.
If you sat most American Conservatives down on Tara’s front porch, had Prissy fanning the sweat from their brow while Mammy put a cool mint julep in their hand, those Conservatives would feel right at home. They’d wonder why anyone would want to change this. And then they’d put their feet up.